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'Brothers & Sisters': The end of Ojai Foods

May 10, 2010 |  7:41 am
When one door closes, another one opens, and on Sunday night's "Brothers & Sisters," the door to Ojai Foods permanently closed. What subsequent doors will open remain to be seen, but the end of the Walkers' family business certainly provided the show with one of its most bittersweet episodes to date.

A year of financial turmoil, which could be blamed by both the economy and mistakes made by various Walkers, finally took its toll on Ojai Foods, and I was sad to see it go. It played an unspoken character, this symbolic representation of William after he had passed. It gave their relationships further context and meaning. Not only did they have to keep it together as a family, they also had to keep it together as a business. Even that turned personal, especially with the addition of Holly and Rebecca, and Ojai became somewhat of an emotional outlet. As a way to deal with their issues of validation and self-worth, Tommy, Saul and Sarah were willing to break laws in order to save it. Holly invested so much energy into carving her own place within its walls in order to fill the void William left while Nora and Kevin used their involvement in Ojai to express their own capacities to forgive. We never learned much about Ojai Foods' origins (though Sarah's intro in the episode revealed some brief background on the company), but like William Walker, there was no doubt of the huge role it played in these characters' lives.

However, this season the business brought more grief than joy, which could be a reason it was time to let go for good. Tommy's embezzlement case last season set off its demise, and the Dennis York ordeal gave the Walkers one last wake-up call that the house that William built was no longer livable. The Walker patriarch had left so much dirty laundry behind that it has taken four seasons to clean it all up. Even though it was sad to see them speechless as they dismantled this huge part of their lives, the Walkers can finally move on and open more doors.

I was glad the show gave Ojai a fitting goodbye. Through Paige's video project, Sarah, Tommy, Saul, Holly and Kevin got to give their touching testimonies on what the business meant for them. Sarah's last fight to give her employees new jobs was almost illegal but admirable, and Nora's determination to save Ojai's infrastructure answered the big mystery of Narrow Lake. She contacted her ex-lover Roger Grant, the building's architect, hoping he'd buy and conserve his very first creation. The plan backfired, but as a gift, Roger handed her the blueprints to Ojai Foods and other projects he had drafted for William, which included a house he was building for Nora on Narrow Lake. Dennis York's intentions for wanting it remain up in the air, but we learned that the land was truly William's love letter (or final apology) to Nora.

The next question is: What happens next for the Walkers? One positive result is that the show can concentrate even more on the individual stories. This could be interesting for Sarah, Tommy and Saul, whose lives were so intertwined with the business that next season could offer a whole new insight into their characters. Rebecca and Justin are clearly moving in different directions. She quickly found a new job that would mean stability for their marriage while he proposed they volunteer in Haiti for a year to satisfy his wanderlust. If they separate, that could leave more doors open for them as well. Kevin and Scotty are going to be parents, and Kitty has an election (and based on next week's season finale preview, a loss?) to tackle.

With so many possible doors to open, I also can't help but feel that it's the beginning of the end for the show. In other words, where else is there to go? I hope I'm wrong and this huge transition simply calls for a new, more invigorating chapter in the Walkers' lives.

What do you think? Do you feel Ojai's closing signals the beginning of the end? What are your thoughts on the episode?

-- Enid Portuguez

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